Makara The Mythical Beast

Makara is an Indian mythic monster, part-fish and part-crocodile which also to be found in the ornamental art of Borobudur temple in Indonesia. Makara has been depicted typically as half mammal and half fish. In many temples, the depiction is in the form of half fish or seal with head of an elephant. It is also shown in an anthropomorphic (abstract form) with head and jaws of a crocodile, an elephant trunk with scales of fish and a peacock tail. As a sea creature, it may have begun as a crocodile, but its iconographic form becomes more and more fanciful the farther it is from any actual experience of sea or deep water animals.

The Makara sculptures that serve as water spouts on the ninth-century Buddhist temple of Borobudur are elephantine, with four unusual cheek teeth that more closely resemble those of a fossil gomphot here than the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).

According to wikipedia, 'Makara' is a Sanskrit word which means "sea dragon" or "water-monster". In Tibetan it is called the "chu-srin", and also denotes a hybrid creature. It is the origin of the word for 'crocodile' in Hindi, मगर (magar), which has in turn been loaned into English as the name of the Mugger crocodile, the most common crocodile in India. Ridden by the god Vishnu, the Makara is sometimes portrayed as a crocodile; as a dolphin, crab, or shark; or as half fish and half elephant .
Makara Sculpture at Jain Museum, India

Josef Friedrich Kohl of Würzburg University and several German scientists claimed that makara is based on dugong instead, based on his reading of Jain text of Sūryaprajñapti.

An 18th-century Tibetan bronze makara (Tib. chu srin) scrupulously follows the traditional description: Jaws of a crocodile with pointed teeth, scales of a fish, the tail of a peacock, the trunk of an elephant, the eyes of a monkey, and the tusks of a boar.

In astrology, the makara is often translated Water Horse, and corresponds to the western astrological sign of Capricorn. It is serpentine or seal-like, and its elephantine head is often used as an architectural decoration or as a structural bracket.

In Hindu mythology, the makara is also an emblem of Kama, god of love's desire who aims his bow of honey bees that lets fly the flowers of love.

Possible explanations:
* A tetralophodon, an advanced gomphot here that lived in India and Java in the Pliocene, 5 million years ago, and survived into historical times.

*The myth of the Makara may be based in part on the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) and t he Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius).


A Dictionary of Symbols written by J.E. Cirlot

Mysterious Creatures: "A Guide to Cryptozoology" written by George M. Eberhart

Pic Source:,_Khajuraho_India.JPG

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